No Competition for Modi in 2019 Elections, Says Nitish Kumar

The Bihar chief minister also said that the opposition had no real agenda and that he had no option but to break his alliance with Lalu because of the corruption charges.

Nitish Kumar addressing a press conference in Patna on Monday. Credit: PTI

Nitish Kumar addressing a press conference in Patna on Monday. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: In his first media interaction after being sworn in as Bihar chief minister again, Nitish Kumar said he had no option but to walk out of the grand alliance as continuing in the coalition would have meant compromising with corruption. He also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi winning the 2019 re-elections was inevitable, as nobody had the capacity to take him on. Nitish, who recently broke his alliance with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD and the Congress, and went back to the NDA fold after a four-year hiatus, said, “Nobody has the strength to take on the prime minister”.

Nitish also praised Modi’s ‘surgical strikes’ and demonetisation moves, adding, “I have full faith in him and hope he will strike at benami properties in a big way,” Hindustan Times reported.

In the last four years, Nitish had been a scathing critic of the Modi government, the RSS and the Sangh parivar, speaking out against their policies and ideology on several occasions.

Nitish added that although he had always stood for opposition unity, “the opposition has no idea, only a reactive agenda,” according to the Indian Express.

“There were corruption charges and cases were filed by the CBI (against Lalu and his family). I had only told them to come out with proper answers. Instead, they made fun of me, asking whether I was a CBI official or the police,” he told a press conference.

“Laluji did not give any clarification on corruption charges. How could I remain silent after having talked about zero tolerance to corruption? Now I have a feeling that they did not have a proper answer,” Nitish said.

Nitish also said he knew he was opening himself up to criticism from certain sections for aligning with the BJP. “But I would have faced more criticism if I had supported corruption. Secularism is an idea but it should not be used as a cover for acquiring illegal assets,” Indian Express quoted him as saying.

“What does secularism mean? Does secularism mean owning property worth thousands of crore of rupees?” he asked.

He rejected the idea that he had national ambitions. Hindustan Times quoted him as saying, “My role in national politics will be confined to serving one of the bigger states of the country.”

Meanwhile, the Patna high court on Monday dismissed two PILs challenging the formation of a new government by Nitish, saying the court’s intervention was no longer required after the floor test in the state assembly.

While one public interest litigation was filed by RJD MLAs Saroj Yadav and Chandan Verma, the other was by Jitendra Nitish, a Samajwadi Party member.

Nitish comfortably won the confidence vote, 131-108, on Friday.

Even as Nitish defended his decision of aligning with the BJP, JD(U) veteran Sharad Yadav voiced his disapproval, saying the mandate in the 2015 assembly polls was for the grand alliance. He termed the development “unpleasant” and “unfortunate”.

“The situation is very unpleasant to us… It is unfortunate that the coalition has been broken. Peoples mandate was not for it. Bihar’s 11 crore people had endorsed our alliance,” Yadav told reporters outside parliament.

The Rajya Sabha member has met a number of opposition leaders since Nitish walked out of the three-party mahagathbandhan and joined the NDA camp.

Nitish, on the other hand, played down Sharad’s views, saying people have different opinions in a democracy and the party leaders would get to air them at the JD(U)’s national executive meeting in Patna on August 19.

Addressing a press conference in Patna, he said the Bihar unit of the party had endorsed the decision to snap ties with the RJD and join hands with the BJP.

In Lucknow, BJP chief Amit Shah dismissed allegations of his party engineering splits and defections in rival political organisations.

“In Bihar, we did not break any party. Nitish had tendered his resignation as he had decided that he will not put up with corruption. Should we have told him with a gun to his temple that stay in that alliance?” Shah told a press conference.

(With PTI inputs)